Facebook Deletes Africa Accounts Linked To Russian Troll Factory
Facebook has taken down accounts linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin – the businessman allegedly behind Russia’s notorious troll factory – which was actively seeking to influence the domestic politics of a range of African countries.
The company said on Wednesday it had suspended three networks of “inauthentic” Russian accounts. The Facebook pages targeted eight countries across the continent: Madagascar, the Central African Republic (CAR), Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Sudan and Libya.
All were linked to Prigozhin, a Russian tycoon close to Vladimir Putin. The US has previously indicted Prigozhin for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. It accuses him of running a global disinformation media empire and of funding the Internet Research Agency, the St Petersburg troll factory that boosted Donald Trump.
Story from The Guardian.
Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said Russia used almost 200 fake and compromised accounts to reach more than 1 million followers in Africa. Russian-run networks worked closely with locals in order to disguise the sites’ true origins, he said.
“There’s sort of a joining of forces, if you will, between local actors and actors from Russia,” he told Reuters. “It appears that the local actors who are involved know who is behind the operation.” Advertisement
In recent years the Kremlin has made considerable efforts to cultivate support from African rulers. Last week Putin held the first-ever Russia-Africa forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, attended by more than 40 African heads of state.
Prigozhin has led Russia’s push in Africa. Mercenaries from Wagner – a shadowy private military contractor linked to Prigozhin – have been sent to the Central African Republic. Prigozhin entities have also established media outlets in several African countries and have sent Russian “advisers” to help with elections.
Read more at The Guardian.